SAN FRANCISCO – Tiger Woods and John Daly made the PGA Tour feel like a rock concert Sunday, the delirium reaching such decibels that Woods felt his ear drums pounding as golf’s two biggest sluggers headed for a sudden-death playoff at Harding Park.
It was a titanic struggle that ended with a whimper.
Despite their 350-yard tee shots that soared majestically against the blue sky over Lake Merced, the American Express Championship came down to a putt that would have been a gimme on most municipal golf courses.
Daly, who seconds earlier had a 15-foot birdie putt to win, missed a 3-footer for par on the second extra hole to hand Woods his 10th title in the World Golf Championships.
“That’s not how you’re supposed to win a golf tournament,” Woods said. “We’re in a playoff, we’re battling, and J.D. played beautifully all week. It shouldn’t end like that.”
It was a somber conclusion to an otherwise spectacular tournament at San Francisco’s municipal gem.
Woods, he of the massive fist pumps and megawatt smile, bowed his head and drew his hand over his right eye as if he had just lost the tournament.
Daly walked off the 16th green and handed his putter to a fan.
“I really thought I was going to make the (birdie) putt,” Daly said. “You know, what do you do? I know Tiger didn’t want to win that way, and I certainly didn’t want to lose that way.”
Woods made up a two-shot deficit over the final three holes to force a playoff and closed with a 3-under 67. He won the American Express Championship for the fourth time in six starts, and is now 10 for 19 in the World Golf Championships that count toward official money. It was his sixth victory of the year.
Daly closed with a 69, three-putting from 30 feet on the 17th to crack open the door for Woods.
He had two chances to win the tournament – a 16-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole in regulation that he left short, then the birdie putt on No. 16 – the second playoff hole – that he three-putted for bogey.
“It’s discouraging to lose that way,” Daly said. “To fight like I did – I really didn’t hit the ball that great today – just to give myself an opportunity to win, it’s disappointing. I played my heart out.”
Colin Montgomerie missed birdie putts of 6 and 10 feet to cost himself a chance for his first official victory on U.S. soil, but kept alive his hopes with a 12-foot birdie on the 17th to get within one shot.
But he missed the 18th green, chipped weakly and took bogey for a 70 that left him in a three-way tie for third at 272 with Henrik Stenson (68) and Sergio Garcia (69).
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